Sunday, September 11, 2016

Cabildo Museum - New Orleans, LA (The Napoleon Death Mask)

701 Chartres St.
New Orleans, LA 70130

            Strolling through Jackson Square and your attention is immediately drawn to the famous St. Louis Cathedral. Walking nearby to admire the intrauterine architecture, you can't help but notice the two large buildings that sit to the left and right of the cathedral. The building to the right is the Presbytere, which we will get to later. The other older and more significant building is the historical Cabildo.
            The present Cabildo was built in 1795 to house the legislative and administrative council which ruled Spanish Louisiana. Two earlier government buildings sat on this spot and had been destroyed during both fires in 1788 and 1794. The Cabildo was designed by Gilberto Guillemard, who also would design the St. Louis Cathedral and the Presbytere. The building took the name of the council for whose use it was built and continued as the seat of the government of Louisiana for the eight remaining years of Spanish rule. During the brief period of French rule, the building was given the French variant of its name, Maison de Ville.

            The Cabildo would be most known for the site of the historical Louisiana Purchase, which literally doubled the size of the United States. From 1803 to1812, the Cabildo was used by the
Cannon on display at the Cabildo.
Louisiana Territorial Superior Court. After Louisiana became a state in 1812, the building continued to be used by the New Orleans City Council until the mid-1850's when Gallier Hall opened on St. Charles Avenue. Following the Civil War, the Cabildo was the home of the Louisiana Supreme Court from 1868 to 1910. The Sala Capitular, or meeting room, was the site of several landmark court cases, including the controversial “separate but equal” Plessy v. Ferguson case in 1896.

            Before the transfer of the building to the state museum in 1908, the Cabildo served as a city hall, a courthouse and a prison. In 1911, the Cabildo became the home of the Louisiana State Museum and houses incredible artifacts from years gone by such as battle-used swords, a lock of Andrew Jackson's hair and one of
Napoleon's death mask found at the Cabildo.
two Napoleon death masks that are in existence. 

            Staff who have worked here during off hours have reported being touched or tapped on their shoulders. When they turn around, they see that no one else is around. Strange sounds and shadows have also been reported. Much of the paranormal activity is said to reside to the rear of the Cabildo, where the jail cells still stand. Individuals have reported seeing the spirit of a British soldier, who was hanged here as a spy during the Battle of New Orleans. He is often seen wandering aimlessly throughout the building. Next time you happen to take your children to the Cabildo to get an entertaining history lesson and think to yourself, “Boy, those new animatronics sure do look realistic,” keep in mind there are no such exhibits and you may have very well had yourself a ghostly encounter!


  1. My ghost encounter there was actually in the front of the buildng on the second floor in the long foyer that runs the entire length of the building. I was walking through towards the room with Napoleon's death mask and felt a tug on my. Left shoulder. I assumed it was my daughter and slapped at the hand on my shoulder. Again my shiulder was. Tugged hard and i slapped again and said "Stop it!". And turned to confront my daughter. There was no one in the entire front foyer. I was totally alone. Something made me speak out "I know you are there, and it's OK." I then hurried off to find my family. I could not speak about it until we left the building. I felt followed for some time in the museum. I was a non-believer until that happened.

  2. Very cool story! Thanks for sharing.